Review Summary: 5FDP step it up from their debut album and present a 2nd record that can be defined with one word – improvement.
Five Finger Death Punch. The band name makes some people (most people actually) cringe. They called their music ‘true metal’ when they came into the heavy music scene. This angered a lot of people. Not only because the lyrics were overly cliché and bad and Ivan vocals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but because their music lacked originality that a lot of metal bands have these days (or at least SHOULD have). As a result, The Way of the Fist was an ok album, but it wasn’t the best thing out there. Recently, the band lost their lead guitarist Darrel Roberts and hired Jason Hook (who previously played with Alice in Chains). This addition is noticeable on this record and is a major plus for them. The whole band really stepped it up this time around.
The album gets of to a heavy start with ‘Dying Breed’. Ivan’s vocals have gotten much heavier than last time, and it hits harder than ‘Ashes’ ever could. The guitar work is also superb, featuring a great solo by Jason Hook. The chemistry that him and rhythm guitarist Zoltan Bathory have is much better than the guitar combination on the previous record and as a result the riffs and the solos are a lot better. The bass is also audible and very distorted. ‘Hard to See’, the albums first single, is one of the softer songs on the record and will most likely be heard on the radio a lot like ‘The Bleeding’. It also features a great solo and a catchy chorus and shows that this band can make some great music if they really want to. One of the major standout tracks is ‘Far from Home’, which features acoustic guitars and a vocal performance by Ivan that is absolutely stunning and emotional. The title track ends the album on a very heavy note and is possibly the heaviest track they’ve ever done. The solo in the song also screeches with melody and works very well. Not every song on here is ‘tough guy metal’ like the previous record. This time around, they got a bit more serious and aren’t nearly as laughable.
Something you will notice upon listening to this album is that it sounds a bit different than their last album. They’ve improved. Ivan Moody is a hit-or-miss vocalist. His vocals on this record though, have improved from anything he’s done before. On heavy songs like ‘Dying Breed’, ‘Burn it Down’, and the title track, his vocals are heavier then they were on the debut album and it works with the great musicianship. He screams and sings his way through this album much better than he did on the first. His lyrics have never been the best though (‘Bulletproof’ and ‘No One Gets Left Behind’ contain some of the worst lyrics he’s ever written to date) but sometimes they can be ignored and the songs are for the most part enjoyable. Guitarists Jason Hook and Zoltan Bathory truly shine on this album. ‘Hard to See’, ‘Burn it Down’, ‘Far from Home’, and ‘Canto 34’ contain some fantastic guitar work and show that the strong point in this bands music lie in their guitars. The bass work is pretty good too when it’s audible. ‘Dying Breed’ has some great bass work that crunches behind the guitars and it backs up the guitar duo well during the solos. Jeremy Spencer is a pretty good drummer as well, and it shows in his work on the heavy songs as well as the soft ones. He can keep up a furious paced metal song or back up Ivan and the guitars on the ballad-like slower tracks.
In the end, 5FDP prove that they can make a good metal record and be serious with their music on War is the Answer and not nearly as boring and unoriginal as before. The whole band really clicks well on here, and the music has taken a step up from before. Acoustic guitars and superb soloing make the guitars stand out a lot more then they did before and show hat the band is maturing a little. The lyrics have also gotten a bit better. Sometimes, it takes a few records for a band to show what they can truly do, and maybe FFDP is one of these bands. War Is the Answer is a rather interesting listen. Don’t write them off too quickly; give them a chance this time around. You might be surprised.